Intel recently commissioned a study, conducted by Wipro Product Strategy and Services, that analyzed the costs of refreshing business PC fleets.  Wipro interviewed CIOs and IT professionals from 106 companies in the U.S., United Kingdom and Germany on many different aspects of the refresh equation, but three stood out as the most important to businesses – security, cost reduction and payback period.


Security is a big concern for businesses these days and their angst appears to be well founded.  According to the study, by the time a PC is four years old, security incidents have increased 52 percent from when it was new.  You don’t want to even peek at the data about what happens after that.


Software-based attacks, viruses and other threats continue to grow, of course, and that's the reason Intel has focused so much attention on incorporating new ways to defend against these attacks into its platforms. The 3X performance increase in the latest Intel Core2 processors help to keep antivirus software, patches and encryption from bogging down the system.  A host of features incorporated into Intel vPro technology have been aimed across the board at the points of vulnerability to protect applications, the platform and the network.


The big question keeping CFOs and CIOs awake at night revolves around how often to buy new PCs.  If we could only get by for one more year…. The study found that operational costs of four-year-old PCs can be reduced up to 52 percent for laptops and 46 percent for desktops by purchasing new systems.  In addition to rising maintenance costs, year four also is typically when warranties have expired and companies begin picking up the repair tab.


To make the data more meaningful, Wipro used the data from the companies polled to create a “model company.” The model company has 11,500 mobile PCs and 19,300 desktop computers at various ages.  For the first three years, acquisition and maintenance costs decline, but going into year four they begin to rise at a steepening rate.  The data shows that if the model company replaces its PCs at three years it saves $3 million versus holding off for just one more year.  The study also found that costs could be reduced another $3 million with vPro technology.  Wipro also determined that the model company would recoup its investment in 17 months by just purchasing new computers, but would it get its investment back in 10 months with vPro technology-based systems even with a $150 premium for the systems.


OK, I can feel the doubters – the study is by a reputable research company and appears objective, but it was commissioned by Intel…and it’s a PR guy interpreting it.  So, let’s get away from empirical evaluation and hear from someone whose business strategy reflects the results of the study to see how he’s faring.  Terry Jocelyn is president of Western Blue, a Northern California-based service and solution provider for more than 20 years.  Western Blue is implementing laptops and desktop systems based on Intel Core2 processors and vPro technology.  I had a chance to talk with him recently about how PC refresh and vPro technology worked into his business strategy and benefited his customers.